Tweets revealing Yorgen Fenech and Malta Today co-owner’s networks deleted

Leaked WhatsApp messages, apparently from businessman Yorgen Fenech’s phone, unravelling a network of relations with the highest echelons of power and Malta Today co-owner Saviour Balzan, have been deleted.

The messages leaked by two anonymous users on X (formerly Twitter), ‘Mister Ranger’ and ‘Guess Who’, provided further detail into previous revelations in the investigation and court hearings related to journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, in which Fenech is charged.

The stream of tweets first started being published at the beginning of the year, only for the accounts, and all leaked messages, to be deleted around 21 January.

They show several politically exposed persons pandering to one of the wealthiest people in the country, with Fenech making overt references to close relationships with others.

These include disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri; former Malta Gaming Authority CEO Heathcliff Farrugia; disgraced former Minister Konrad Mizzi;  former Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar, and disgraced former MFSA chief and newly appointed Project Green CEO Joseph Cuschieri.

Additionally, they show Fenech and Balzan discussing the content and editorial stances for articles on the ‘independent’ Malta Today.

Further messages were then leaked by author Mark Camilleri, who characterised the interactions as those of a “conspirator with organised criminals”.

The leaked messages, published on Thursday, show Balzan and Fenech discussing a response to allegations of Fenech’s interference in MEP elections by former opposition MP David Thake in June 2019.

Fenech asked Balzan to publish a response to the “lie,” telling him to “take my comment so I can challenge him.”

Referring to Thake’s allegations of electoral interference, Fenech said, “We will come out with a strong denial.”

The solicitation is followed by Fenech and Balzan sending each other refined versions of Fenech’s response, with Fenech pressing Balzan to “publish this tonight”.

Ahead of the 2019 European Parliament elections, the Times of Malta revealed how allegations against David Casa, also a contender for the MEP elections at the time, were drafted on Balzan’s personal computer.

Balzan then asks Fenech to send the response to former TVM head of news Reno Bugeja, former Xarabank host Peppi Azzopardi and “copies to all press.”

The WhatsApp exchange occurred on 7 June 2019, almost a year after Fenech was first identified as the owner of 17 Black, the secret offshore companies sending funds to Panamanian accounts held by former Minister Konrad Mizzi and disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s Chief of Staff Keith Schembri.

Following the publication of Fenech’s denial on Malta Today, Balzan told Fenech that he “berated the journalist [who wrote it up] and he changed it.”

“You have to hold their [journalists] hand, and I don’t want to reveal what I think as they’ll speak out,” he said.

Balzan has claimed he is not involved in the daily running of his newsroom, insisting his work as an advertiser and consultant for the government and private companies does not affect the newspaper’s editorial slant.

The messages are followed by various attempts by Balzan to meet Fenech, including an invitation to “a dinner/BBQ at home with our friend KS,” likely disgraced former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Other WhatsApp exchanges published by the now-deleted X accounts show former Malta Today salesperson Erika Arrigo soliciting Fenech for funding and sponsorships.

Balzan’s close relationship with Fenech amplifies concerns surrounding the recently established Association of Media Owners, which comprises ‘independent’ and political party-owned media companies.

The lobby group’s formation came with little clarity about its statute, the formation of its executive committee, and how members are selected, evaluated, and accepted.

In the case of Balzan’s Malta Today, doubts about independence are heightened, considering Balzan has also enjoyed hundreds of thousands of euro in payments for public relations consultancies to government ministers and agencies, revealed by The Shift as part of an ongoing two-year-long freedom of information battle.

Last June, a court decree banning the publication of the chats was issued, preventing newsrooms possessing the highly revelatory chats from releasing them.

In a court sitting which ruled author Mark Camilleri must remove leaked chats between Cutajar and Fenech from his blog, the Information and Data Protection Commissioner Ian Deguara ruled that journalists may be allowed to publish information otherwise protected by data protection laws if it is “proportional, necessary and justified for reasons of substantial public interest.”

                           

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Joe Azzopardi
Joe Azzopardi
1 month ago

laħam mibjugħ

carmelo borg
1 month ago

BALZAN WASLET İL FESTA TİEGHEK (İL KARNİVAL).
İSSA TRİD TİLBES MASKLA OHRA GHAX Lİ KELLEK WAQET JEW WAQQAWİELEK MARK CAMİLLERİ U THE SHİFT NEWS.
KEMM KONT GEJT İMQARRAQ META KONT NİXTRİ İL MALTA TODAY. GHARA KEMM QAL KONTRA MUSCAT İSSA GHAMEL GHAR MİNNU GHAX BAQA İQARRAQ BİL QARREJA TİEGHU

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